In the middle of a tiny restaurant row that has sprouted a few blocks from Mary Brickell Village, Piola is making its mark with a mind-boggling variety of thin-crust pizzas, pastas and other Italian entrees. It took us a long time to pick a pie from the 44 kinds offered. We settled on the capricciosa classic, with ham, mushrooms, artichokes and mozzarella, and enjoyed the bubbly crust and fresh toppings (no canned mushrooms here).
The fried meatballs in the maccheroni rina were small and tasty, with big rigatoni noodles and a slightly tart tomato sauce. The large and hearty calvino salad comes with ribbons of New York strip steak that were chewy and slightly overcooked, but the mixed greens, walnuts, chunks of Gorgonzola cheese, cherry tomatoes, onions and sweet peppers satisfied. We were most impressed with the steak Milanese, lightly breaded beef cutlets topped with mixed greens and cherry tomatoes, served with oven-roasted potatoes. We didn’t expect to find this simple, homey dish in a sleek pizzeria, but we were glad we did.
With an outdoor deck and a large, bright and family-friendly interior, Piola holds promise as a quick eatery for downtowners.